Monday, September 28, 2015

GREED FILES - Volkswagen SMOG Test Cheating (Updated)

"Volkswagen comes clean on emissions cheating" PBS NewsHour 9/22/2015


SUMMARY:  German automaker Volkswagen has revealed that as many as 11 million of its diesel-powered cars worldwide could be affected by software designed to dupe emissions tests.  The software, which only switches on during emissions tests, leaves the cars emitting up to 40 times the legal pollution limits.  Judy Woodruff speaks to John Stoll of The Wall Street Journal.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  The scandal, and the fallout, over Volkswagen’s cheating of emissions standards grew today.  Just last week, the EPA alleged there was deceitful software in half-a-million cars.  Today, Volkswagen raised that number significantly and tried to restore customer trust.

Volkswagen revealed that as many as 11 million diesel-powered cars worldwide could be affected by software that was designed to cheat on emissions tests.  Most of those cars are thought to be in Europe, the automaker’s primary market.  The revelation caused Volkswagen stock to plummet for a second day.  The company lost almost 19 percent of its stock value, or $17 billion, Monday.  The price plunged another 20 percent during trading in Frankfurt today.

The CEO of Volkswagen America, Michael Horn, gave a frank apology last night at an event in Brooklyn.

MICHAEL HORN, CEO, Volkswagen America:  So, let’s be clear about this.  Our company was dishonest.  We have totally screwed up.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  A year-long investigation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency uncovered the software.  It switches on a car’s emissions controls when a smog test is taking place.  But the controls turn off again when the test is over, leaving cars emitting up to 40 times the legal pollution limits.

The software is installed in Volkswagen Jettas, Beetles, Golfs and Passats and Audi A3s sold in the U.S. since 2008.  The Justice Department has reportedly opened a criminal investigation of the automaker.  Investigations are also being launched in France, Germany and South Korea.

For more, we turn to John Stoll.  He is Detroit bureau and global automotive editor for The Wall Street Journal.  He has been following developments in this story closely.

John Stoll, welcome.

You have been covering this story closely.  And you have covered other auto industry problems.  Where does this one rank?

JOHN STOLL, The Wall Street Journal:  It’s up there.

I mean, this is one, because of the volume of vehicles we’re talking about and the sort of transatlantic implications — 11 million is not a small number when you talk about the U.S. car park.  About 85 million vehicles are sold a year.  So, yes, that’s spread over several years of production, but that’s a large sum of cars.  And Volkswagen right now is the biggest automaker in the world, as of the first half of 2015, huge aspiration, and obviously, in Germany, they’re a big employer.

JUDY WOODRUFF 9/23/2015:  ..... the head of the German automaker Volkswagen is out, amid a scandal over rigging diesel cars to pass pollution tests.  CEO Martin Winterkorn announced today he’s stepping down.

He denied any personal wrongdoing, but in a statement, said — quote — “Volkswagen needs a fresh start.  I am clearing the way for this fresh start with my resignation.”

Germany’s economy minister warned today against assuming the scandal will do lasting harm to V.W. or to the German economy.

"How Volkswagen got caught cheating" PBS NewsHour 9/29/2015


SUMMARY:  How did Volkswagen get caught rigging the emissions software of its diesel vehicles?  William Brangham talks with John German of the International Council on Clean Transportation, one of the engineers who helped catch the automaker.

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